Housing Services FAQs

The Nature of the accommodation on offer

  • What type of housing will be offered?
    We will offer rented accommodation to Participant Tenants, with lease terms longer than that of a typical rented property. In most cases, dwellings will be a 2 bed apartment, townhouse or villa, shared by 2 Participant Tenants. In some cases, if a “live in” support worker is required, a 3 bed property will be offered. Our principle is that the houses will be embedded in the community, close to transport and services, and will not be part of a clustered living arrangement or development.
  • Are the houses new dwellings, or older existing dwellings?
    We will provide a range of options, some being new, and some being older. Either way, we are committed to ensuring quality accommodation is provided to our Participant Tenants, at an affordable cost.
  • Will the houses be shared with others?
    Yes, we believe that 2 persons sharing in a house is the preferred option to enable an independent living experience to be nurtured.
  • Can carers live in the houses?
    Our rental offering is based on the principle of independent living, and we do not envisage Participant Tenants will require a parent or carer to live in with them.
  • What options are there for modifications to the dwellings?
    We envisage that the needs of the majority of Participants living in the houses will mean that only minor modifications will be required.
  • What maintenance will be provided, such as gardening etc?
    The houses will be low maintenance. Hearth will ensure any relevant repairs and maintenance services are provided as applicable to the nature of each residence.
  • Will the dwellings be furnished?
    In a shared house the furnishing for certain shared items, such as fridges, washing machines, and so on, if required is to be agreed.
  • Do you have houses available or when will houses be available?
    Once we have fully established Hearth Housing, our aim is to begin to provide properties based on demand. Phase 1 involving the process to purchase 2 properties is currently underway. Regular updates will be provided on the timing of available properties for rent.

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Eligibility for Housing. The Relationship Between Hearth Housing and Hearth Support Services

  • How will Hearth determine who is eligible for becoming a tenant in a rental property, and on what basis are decisions made?
    Based on expressions of interest, and the specific circumstances of each participant, Hearth will undertake a collaborative evaluation of the possibility of providing a rental housing solution. This will include an independent assessment, and a matching process, in order to identify the optimal pathway towards a co tenancy option.
  • Will it be contingent on using Hearth for the provision of support services?
    Yes. We believe in a long-term partnership with our participants, to enable a cohesive and aligned suite of services, to ensure quality outcomes and simplicity in communication and liaison with our participants.
  • If participants require only a few hours of support services a week, will they qualify for housing?
    The assessment for eligibility for Hearth Housing will be undertaken on a case by case basis, through understanding and taking into account the specific needs of each participant.
  • Is the proposal contingent on a certain volume of NDIS support fees or for their being people on SDA being part of the mix of individual in a development?
    No. Hearth is not targeting participants who currently have eligibility and funding to support an SDA housing solution, which is funded by the NDIS.
  • Can Support workers live in at the dwelling?
    In circumstances where this is deemed a requirement, we can offer a 3 bed housing solution, to enable a full time support worker to occupy a room at the house.
  • Do you provide 24 x 7 support cover for Participant Tenants?
    Yes, we aim to roll out a 24 x 7 support team, as part of the Housing offering, accompanied by a technology platform to assist in communication.
  • Do you provide IT and Communications Support?
    Yes, we aim to use technology to support communications between participants, Hearth, their parents, Support Workers and carers . We will ensure technical support is available to assist Participant Tenants in learning to use the technology platforms.
  • How will you assist in the transition of participants from their existing home to their new rental accommodation?
    We will have a dedicated transition team who will assist parents/ guardians and Participant Tenants with all aspects involved with planning for and delivering the move. Once moved in, our Relationship Managers and Support Workers will continue to provide the in-home support and care as we do today, with the overlay of 24 x 7 support contact.

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Tenancy Arrangements and Rent

  • What is the legal relationship between participant/carer/guardian and landlord?
    Hearth Housing will be the de facto landlord to the Participant Tenants, albeit the actual property will be owned by a third party investment vehicle. The relationship between Hearth and the participant tenants will be governed by a Lease Rental Agreement.
  • Are there any special rules that apply to the tenancy (eg: can friends stay over, etc)?
    As is the case in any rental accommodation, the principles of the Residential Tenancies Act will apply to define the broad rights of tenants and landlords. This provides for the landlord to establish and apply reasonable house rules, which will need to be agreed through a documented Service Agreement, which also aligns to the expectations and requirements of all the tenants occupying the house.
  • Under what circumstances can the tenant or landlord cancel the lease rental Agreement?
    As is the case in any rental accommodation, the principles of the Residential Tenancies Act will apply to define the broad rights of tenants and landlords. The circumstances around lease cancellation will be specified in the lease rental agreements, applying reasonable rules, in compliance to the legal rules.
  • Can the participant return to their parents’ home if it does not work out?
    Yes, that will always be a choice for the participant and their parents. The implications of cancellation of the arrangements will be governed by the lease rental agreement.
  • What if the persons sharing the house do not get on?
    Hearth will take all reasonable steps in the matching of participants into the shared accommodation, involving all relevant stakeholders, parents or guardians. In the event that the relationships between cotenants become unworkable for one or both parties, Hearth will have defined Policies and Processes in place to resolve the situation. This will be Governed by the house rules, and the terms of the lease rental agreement.
  • How are the rents set?
    Rents will be based on market rates applicable to the houses provided, with a level of choice driving that cost. The more expensive the house, the higher the relative rent. Participants being eligible for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) are allowed to commit 25% of the DSP towards the rent payments, and further, participants eligible for Commonwealth Rental Allowance (CRA) will be able to allocate those funds against the rent payment.
  • How will rents be re assessed? Will this re occur each year and will rents be capped?
    Rent review clauses within the lease rental agreements will define how and when rents are re-assed. This normally comprises an annual CPI adjustment, and/or market review of rentals based on property valuations and the market forces applicable at the time. These agreements may provide for a cap, subject to approval by the property owners.
  • Will Commonwealth Rental Assistance (CRA) be available?
    Our understanding is that the majority of participants will be eligible for the CRA.
  • How long will the lease terms be?
    We aim to provide long term security of tenure for our Participant Tenants, through rolling 3 to 5 year lease terms, along with options for extension.
  • How does the tenure of the lease correlate to the terms of the NDIS plan?
    Hearth will work with the NDIA on ways to better align the NDIS plans, with the longer-term nature of the rental agreements. This will mean the relationship with Hearth Support workers is maintained through the duration of the lease.

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Financing of The Properties

  • Who will fund the properties and how?
    Hearth will establish a separate company which will source the funds required to acquire the properties.
  • What would happen if the investors behind the properties exited or defaulted?
    To provide long term security of lease tenure for our participant tenants, Hearth will partner with investor groups of quality standing, committed to a long-term relationship with Hearth and a sustainable investment model. This will be invisible to the participant tenants, meaning any risks associated with this are managed by Hearth.
  • Is there a draft contract/agreement that can be seen?
    Not at this stage. The details of any contracts, the lease rental agreement and Service Agreements (including house rules) will be developed once we are further progressed with our housing proposition.
  • Who are the investors who own the houses? Are they individuals or companies?
    The nature of the investors will most likely be private investors, who have an interest in support Socially Responsible projects. The mix of investors is being determined.

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Regulatory and Compliance

  • What Building Regulations apply to the houses you propose to rent to participants?
    On the basis that the majority of dwellings will require minimal modifications, the building codes and other regulatory requirements for a rental property will broadly be similar to those of any rental property, including but not limited to fire prevention and detection.
  • What insurances are in place ?
    It is the responsibility for the property owner to insure the Buildings, and provide for its own landlord and liability insurances. Insurances for any specific personal contents will be a matter for each individual to assess.
  • Who is accountable for the safety of the participant tenants, whilst living in a Hearth Rental Property?
    There are many important aspects of safety and well – being to consider in a shared accommodation setting, taking into account the unique needs that may be applicable to cotenants with a disability. As an overall guiding principle, the de facto landlord and support service provider, Hearth, is not the guardian of the tenants, meaning Hearth has no direct responsibility for the behaviours or choices made by the tenants, who are treated as adults under the law. However, Hearth has a responsibility and duty of care to provide a safe living environment, with security, fire protection, house rules and other safety aspects to be in place. A benefit from the Hearth Service model is that Support Workers make daily visits to the house. This will enable fast and easy contact to the parents/ guardians to highlight any areas of concern, including for example, if the participant is not vacant at the property for a reason that is not known by the parent or guardian, or if there are any health concerns.
  • Impact of COVID -19? How will you manage this type of risk into the future?
    The very fact that participants co sharing, may have individual support workers, Allied health workers, family and friends, all visiting the house, means an inherent risk to be managed, from many aspects, brought to life with the current COVD -19 experiences. Hearth already manages COVID safe processes for all in home support that it provides to its participants. The Policies and Procedures involved in a Hearth rented accommodation will of course need to be at the highest level of Quality Control and Compliance.

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Administration Processes

  • How is the Hearth Housing and Hearth Support Services business administered to make life easier for the participants and their parents/guardians?
    Hearth Housing will be a separate business entity to that of Hearth Support Services. Life will be made simpler for participants and their parents/ guardians in that through our proven single point of contact Relationship Manager structure, communication lines between Hearth Housing and Hearth Support Services will be streamlined and clearly defined. Our focus will be in making it simple.
  • What is the application process for a Hearth Housing rental property?
    An Expression of Interest Form is required to be completed on the Hearth Website, and Hearth will contact you to discuss the next steps on what is involved in the application process. Participants are required to be signed into a Hearth Support Services Agreement before being eligible to apply for Hearth Housing accommodation.
  • How long will it take to complete the application process?
    This will depend on the nature of each application, the choices and requirements of participants, and other factors such as the availability of properties for rental. Our aim is to have a simple process to approve eligible applicants, and then include them on the list awaiting matching to potential properties and cotenants.
  • Do you have any price lists for the various bundles of services you offer, including housing?
    We will develop prices taking into account the choices you might wish to make. This will impact the options as to services required and the costs involved.
  • Can you help us understand the out-of-pocket costs involved after Government support (the gap payments)?
    Once we have understood the choices you wish to make, and the costs involved, we are able to provide you with a financial assessment of the rental costs you will need to provide for, after taking into account the Government assistances you are eligible for. Depending on the location of the house, and cost to purchase, this might result in a no “gap” outcome, or a higher “gap” payment outcome.
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